Wednesday, February 4, 2009

John Sugg

JOHN F. SUGG is a founder and executive editor of the Georgia Online News Service. Previously he has held senior editing and writing positions at Creative Loafing, The Miami Herald, The Atlanta Constitution, The Tampa Tribune and American Lawyer Publications. Sugg has won more than 40 awards for column writing, editorials, investigative reporting and business writing.

Editor's note: Hello, Georgia! Chilly today, right? And this is the Deep South. Speaking of the South, one item that never loses its appeal among readers is the Civil War. True, it's been over with for 144 years, but many families, whether Blue or Gray, still honor their ancestors who fought the war. Georgia Online News Service writer Bill Hendrick writes today about a new book that profiles many of the soldiers from Georgia who fought in the conflict. It's not exactly breaking news, but it's fascinating.

On the legislative front lines – in a war that's often uncivil – Maggie Lee reports on consumer issues in the first of two articles. Today's story focuses on Georgia Power's pay-now-get-electricity-later plan. And today's Soapbox is by Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears. She warns: "Even in good economic times, the administration of justice is difficult to fulfill given the sheer volume and complexity of problems Georgians bring to their courthouses. Because of the effects of the nation's bad economy, people will need access to justice now more than ever."

Finally, I was intrigued by Sen. Eric Johnson's bill to make school vouchers available to just about everyone in Georgia. My take? At the heart of Johnson's bill is the belief that public education can't be fixed. I disagree, and argue that we should stop savaging school spending and focus on proven remedies, such as expanding pre-K.

One of our most popular features is proving to be Soapbox, and its editor is David Beasley, who for many years was the op-ed editor at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. If you have an opinion piece on a subject of importance to Georgians, or a suggestion of a topic we should explore, send it to Beasley at

As always, send your comments and suggestions to or call 800-891-3459. The Georgia Online News Service is being offered free for a limited time. We don't believe quality journalism has to disappear because of the economy or the dismal state of many newspapers. Your opinion on how we're doing – and what other content we could provide – is very important to us.

Today's GONSO

New book chronicles Civil War from viewpoint of ordinary soldiers

by Bill Hendrick
Unlike most of the tens of thousands of Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War, William G. Delony finally returned to his roots and is buried in a marked grave in Athens' historic Oconee Hills Cemetery, just off the campus of the University of Georgia.

Delony, who graduated with honors from UGA in 1846, is profiled in a new book, "Faces of the Confederacy," authored by Ronald S. Coddington, who earned his degree from UGA in 1985.

Coddington, now art director for USA Today, didn't set out to profile Delony, who died in a Union hospital after the Battle of Gettysburg and was buried in Washington, D.C., until reinterred in Oconee Hills.

Indeed, Delony is just one of 77 Confederate soldiers, including many from Georgia, who're pictured and profiled in Coddington's new and meticulously researched book.

Full Story

Only those who hate schools would vouch for vouchers

by John Sugg
Thank you, Sen. Eric Johnson. The Georgia Assembly was on the verge of not having any major irrelevancy to distract us from the crises brought on by Gold Dome mismanagement. Gays? Guns? Abortion? Damn little meat left to pick on those sacred cows. But just in the nick of time, Sen. Johnson arrived with a definitely-not-needed bill sure to fire up the state's emotions.

The issue is education, something we're all fretting about. Johnson's remedy – in the sense that sticking your hand in a blazing inferno will remedy your concern about a mosquito bite on one of your fingers – is vouchers.

Full Story

Georgia Power's pay-in-advance funding tops consumer issues at Legislature

by Maggie Lee
The threat of bigger power bills during a recession is shocking Georgia's most prominent consumer watchdog, yet the plan to finance new nuclear power plants is just the first consumer item on a legislative agenda that may put sub-prime mortgage brokers in the dog house and muzzle some tax preparers.

"The consumers are going to be footing the bill for prepaying the financing costs plus getting the kick in the gut of paying the construction costs after the thing comes online," according to Allison Wall, executive director of consumer advocacy group Georgia Watch, one of the main opponents of the Georgia Nuclear Energy Financing Act.

Full Story


Georgia's chief justice: Because of bad economy, 'people will need access to justice now more than ever'

From a speech by Judge Leah Ward Sears: The judicial system's budget is less than 1 percent of the overall state budget, but we play a huge role in protecting the safety and security of Georgia citizens. Unfortunately, like others in state government, we have had to slash our budget to the bone. We have reduced personnel and cut our expenditures. Before this economic downturn, this state's appellate courts were well on our way toward unveiling an electronic filing system to make all our courts more accessible to people throughout the state. Such a system is a minimum requirement in this 21st century. Unfortunately, we have had to put that on indefinite hold.
Full Story

Tomorrow's Budget
There's little conversation between Georgia and Obama administration
by Tom Baxter
Lenders and lawyers among those targeted by consumer legislation
by Maggie Lee
Brits are wrong by not serving squirrel with most important meal of the day
by Larry Wilkerson
Sonny Perdue's message to Georgia Historical Society: Drop dead
by Todd Groce

Recent stories
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Economic downturn could produce a level playing field for baseball by Paul Kaplan   [More]
Perdue should not hike the cost of home ownership or medical care by Sam Olens   [More]
Georgia Power's Nuke-Sized Nightmare by Lyle Harris   [More]
Peanut catastrophe makes clear one thing: Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin's retirement is long overdue by J. Randolph Evans   [More]
Pain Relief at the Capitol by Hollis Gillespie   [More]
Bitter Tea In Richland: Town's water contamination highlights infrastructure problems statewide by Bill Osinski   [More]
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The high price of cheap gasoline by Tex Pitfield   [More]
Plan for best use of Chattahoochee’s water is criticized by Maggie Lee   [More]
State parks have "great value" – but not to budget writers by Wendy Parker   [More]
Transportation top concern for business community by Jeanne Bonner   [More]
A sure(hell)-fire way to raise state funds? Tax all 7 Deadly Sins by K. Patrick Jensen   [More]
Lesson for legislators: Don't forget the children by Pat Willis   [More]
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Obama's reach across divide praiseworthy, but not without precedent by Ralph Reed   [More]
County officials across state see 'most challenging year' grappling with budgets by Tom Opdyke   [More]
As spring training looms, Braves look like a middle-of-the-pack team by Paul Kaplan   [More]
Let's hope news media re-awaken before U.S. infrastructure crumbles by Jon Sinton   [More]
What comes first at General Assembly: political posturing or good policy? by Tom Opdyke   [More]
Problems abound with single party control by J. Randolph Evans   [More]
Funding for Georgia health programs, trauma centers may be a smoking issue by Bill Hendrick   [More]
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This year's session to be a classic clash of political philosophies by Eric Tanenblatt   [More]
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